Or 11:04 pm, Eastern time. 19 hours ago I awoke in Reykjavik, and here I am, sitting in my bed at a really seedy hostel in the heart of New York City . Fascinating. For now I am the only human inhabitant in this room, but I don't feel lonely at all, as the cockroaches do their best to keep me company. It's kinda cool, having one's own room in New York City for 18 dollars per night. Oh well. I guess the 3 other beds will be taken eventually.
I got here thanks to instructions from my friend Hao, good advice from my sidewoman at the airplane, Kristina May, Icelandic/American actress/ waitress and cooperation with Heidi, a Luxembourgian coming to New York to become rich and famous in some way or another. Kinda interesting to be thrown onto the NYC subway, a Sunday evening way after dark, without too many clues about how to behave and/or where to go. Still, I did get here, and it cost me only 5 quarters. So, Happy Happy, Joy Joy. At a quarter to eleven I was on the doorstep here, and this old man let me in and gave me a room. Hey, I feel lucky tonight.
My contact in New York City is Hao Lin , a student and employee at New York University, and I just barely know him from IRC, Internet Relay Chat. Just now I called him at his work, and have set up for us to meet outside here tomorrow morning at 09:30, which I hope will be late enough for me to get rid of the jetlag. It is warm warm here, ninetysomething degrees Fahrenheit, about 30 degrees Celsius. And it is highly humid as well. So... I am going to open the window to the street, living in the basement means that I will kinda sleep outside in New York City. I wonder if that is going to work out fine... Oh well. It is that or no sleep at all, I guess.
The hostel really meets all my expectations about a sleezy place. One shower and one toilet for a total of 30 people of all possible sexes, religions and cultures. Well... Quite a few of us are Scandinavians, so it's not like I feel like an alien or something. I guess the strong presence of the Scandinavian race may be due to the free beer and pizza at the hostel, Sunday and Wednesday evenings. I just spoke to a couple of them before I went to bed. I think I'll like it here.
I packed the must-not-loose-stuff into a smaller bag, which I intend to carry with me whereever I go, leaving the stuff I can live without in a state of emergency behind in the room, unattended. There is nowhere to keep things safely here. Works fine. I guess I am kinda paranoid, but travelling alone it would really suck if I lost my most needful things.
Hao came over just after 9:30, and after shaking hands we started walking at once. First we walked a bit east before turning and following 6th Avenue southwards. Popped by the university and sent a couple of electronic postcards. On our way to the southern end of Manhattan we passed China Town, which wasn't THAT big really, but very picturesque. I even got a picture of myself with it in the background. The skyscrapers were kinda impressive to me, that never saw something taller than 30 floors before. I was a good boy and didn't seem impressed, though. I even removed the address tag from my bag, so I hope I looked more or less like someone living in New York at a more permanent basis. Oh, and all the people asking for change; just ignore them. Works fine. Even if it doesn't feel alright to you, it's not worth getting their attention by starting talking to them. This country is rather fucked up, I'm afraid, and there is nothing you can do to change it.
The Financial District was very impressive, with a collection of older boats lying at the bottom of the skyscrapers, creating a nice contrast. The view from this dock towards Brooklyn Bridge is very good, and the mall down here has a Sharper Image shop within. Very good one as well. But do not, under any circumstances, bring a softdrink with you into the store. They tend to get hysterical about it.
Oh! And I actually used the public restroom in Battery Park, one of the public parks in New York, which the travel guides strongly advices to stay away from. I am SO proud of myself. And I didn't even spill a drop. Oh, and I got to see the Statue of Liberty from Manhattan. There was more than an hour in line to get to the actual island and stand next to it. I resent lines.
After this we saw NYSE the stock exchange, City Hall (Ghostbusters!), Bank of America, World Trade Center and other famous buildings, all nice. Still, seeing all the terrible, disgusting things while walking between these places, makes my impression of New York City not very good. But probably more correct than most tourists impressions are...
We walked back towards Greenwich Village along Broadway, but in the opposite end of the famous part of it. No theatres here. I did get to see the three largest bookstores I've ever been in. Strand's seems to be the best one, even if books by Douglas Adams seem to be difficult to get hold of around here. I had my first "typical American experience" in one of the others, Barnes & Noble, I think. A large line had formed in front of one of the zillions of escalators in this city, without any obvious reason for it. I asked the guard who was observing the line, and he told me there was a line to get up to the next floor. Uhm... I said, but there is a stairway going up over there, what if I walk up that one? Oh, sure. Go ahead, the line is just for the escalator. *shrug* People waited in line to avoid using a flight of steps, a total of 30 steps... And some stood there for several minutes, because they wouldn't let all the people go up there at once. Yaaaay America!
Walked through Madison Square Park, and for the first time in my life I saw real American squirrels. Who actually are as quite as the guys at Disney draw them. Rather stunning. But they all had rabies, so I was adviced not to touch them. Oh well. Such is life.
We had a big chicken-dinner at BBQ. 4 dollars, and I was not able to finish my plate. I think I can like this country, food-wise. The reason may partly have been that I had been drinking all day to avoid dehydrating completely, but it WAS a large plate of food.
Afternoon/Evening hit me with its humidity, and one decided to spend some time in an air-conditioned movie theatre. Good choice, I think. Saw Apollo 13, which is going to win an Oscar for special effects, I think. Not THAT good a choice, perhaps. Then back to the hostel, where I spent the rest of the evening talking to an American and a Dutch guy before calling it a day. Calling it a great day, actually. I am having a ball. And still alone, apart from the guys with six legs, in the room. Luxury. Good night.
(C) 1995 BC Tørrissen